Amerindian-Euroamerican Diffusion

This post will be short because I (intentionally) gave the students a question–whether Sioui was right that Amerindian culture has influenced Euroamerican culture more than vice versa–that they were not quite equipped yet to answer it. As such, I do not want to give away things that will show up throughout the semester. Whether you agree with Sioui or not (or even think it is an oversimplification), his question requires thinking beyond the outwardly observable. It’s important to dive below the cultural surface. We definitely see Amerindian influences in modern American culture. The hippie and environmental movements definitely saw their ideas as being influenced by Native Americans, even though both involved over-generalized, stereotyped Native American ideologies (and sometimes wholly appropriated in the case of the former). Looking in the other direction, we see the impacts of boarding schools and reservations on Native American communities, societies, and cultures. Discussing which influenced more on this level is somewhat silly in the context of colonialism and resistance. To be interesting and meaningful we must explore deeper symbolic structures. Identity. Values. Ideology. How much did colonization change these things? How much of American ideology and identity uses/borrows/steals/appropriates Native American concepts? These are the questions that matter within an anthropological framework and that we’ll address throughout the semester.

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